You don’t look it

Barry Cohen is disingenuous when he asks “why many people, who don’t appear to be Aborigines are treated…as if they were” (“Does it all boil down to a question of colour?”, The Australian, 4/10). Race is a fuzzy cultural notion which does not withstand scientific scrutiny. Racism hangs its hat on skin colour or eye shape, but it is fundamentally about one culture dominating another. Where there is no visible trigger, religion or language will do just as well.

We are not bound to our cultures by genes, but by social bonds and formative experiences. We cannot choose our culture as if it were a shirt.

By way of comparison, many Jews have little genetic connection to the ancient Middle East, many are not religious, many “don’t appear to be” Jewish. Should their cultural identity questioned?

More pertinently, do we publish our doubts about someone’s identity as fact, as Andrew Bolt did, with brutal disregard for truth, reputation and feelings, and expect to get away with it?

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